The Cardinal Contracting Grizzly Bears team has a never-give-up attitude, and it served them well on Monday.
The Grizzly Bears scored three straight third-period goals to log their first win of the season in the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey Association league at Canada Games Centre.
“We were hustling,” said Bears forward Natalie Haltrich. “I think our team just keeps going no matter what, which is great. We were skating hard and we try to talk a lot out there, which we typically didn’t do a lot last year – a lot of us played together last year.
“We just decided we had to shoot a lot on that goalie (Stacey Bowman) because she’s pretty solid. I think we tired her out by the end of the third. She played a great game.”
Down 2-0, the Grizzly Bears buried three straight – two unassisted – to top North Star Mini-Storage 3-2.
Bears captain Sasha Merrell scored the game-winner, grabbing a loose puck in front of the North Star net, sending it top corner with 4:40 left in regulation.
“There’s a core group of us who played together last year, so our goal this year was to try and get that team back together,” said Merrell. “So I think we’re just looking forward to another season, playing with our friends, regardless of winning or losing. We’re here to have fun.”
Bears defence Meredith Young put in her team’s first two goals. She tossed in the tying goal with a backhander from in front with 6:48 left in the third. She got the first one three minutes into the period, assisted by Merrell and Jess Wood.
“This is her first year playing in the WWHA,” said Haltrich of Young. “She used to play in a university club, so she definitely has some skill behind her. Yeah, she’s great – we’ll take her.”
The Grizzly Bears (1-1) lost their season opener 6-5 to Team Blue on Saturday.
North Star (0-2) dropped their opener 4-0 to Thomas Electric Ltd. on Friday.
North Star acting captain Alyssa Beckett has her team’s only goals of the season so far. She scored late in the first period and then early in the third, assisted by Jen King.
“We fell apart,” said Beckett, of the dropped lead. “We were short-benched, we only had nine players tonight. And everyone is playing in new positions – we have new girls this year trying out new positions. It was the second game of the year and we were all a little tired and (the Grizzly Bears) held us pretty good.”
“We have a good group of girls, all sorts of skill levels, different backgrounds, girls from all over the country who now live in Whitehorse,” she added. “So far it’s been pretty good.”
For the second year in a row the league has seven teams with about 100 players. It’ll be a busy season for the league with about seven games a week between now and the start of the playoffs in March.
The league has also had lots of success securing sponsors with six coming aboard to fund teams.
“Last year we only had two sponsors, this year we have six teams that are sponsored and one that still needs a sponsor,” said league board member Vanessa Bogaert. “Six sponsors for a women’s division is pretty awesome.”
“This was the fifth or sixth game of the season and you can already see the calibre is pretty much as high as it was at the end of last season,” Bogaert added. “So we already have a lot higher calibre women playing this year. So the league is not only growing, it’s getting higher in play.”
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